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British Aid Groups Reject Government Support for Iraq Relief

Several British aid organizations have declined government financial support for their relief work in Iraq for fear of compromising their independence, according to Guardian.

Directors of Oxfam, Save the Children, Christian Aid, ActionAid and Cafod, a Catholic aid agency, signed a declaration stating that receiving aid from the British government would be “inappropriate” while fighting continues.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
“It is impossible for armed forces fighting a war to provide impartial humanitarian assistance on the basis of need,” read the joint statement. “By definition, the priorities of combatant forces are military and adversarial, not humanitarian.”
But other charities plan to use government funds for Iraqi humanitarian relief.
Radio Free Europe reported that the British government plans to allocate 30 million pounds (over $47 million) to major charity organizations like the Red Cross and Red Crescent to help deliver humanitarian aid to <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Iraq.
Mary-Louise Wayhill, British humanitarian policy adviser for the International Red Cross, told RFE it is crucial for the Red Cross and other aid organizations to maintain a presence in Iraq, and to remain neutral as the conflict continues.
Wayhill said that regardless of British participation in the war, the special government allocation is welcome and will be used to prepare for consequences of war in and around Iraq.
Cafod’s perspective is different.
The organization said in a separate statement it “could not envisage circumstances under which it would accept money for war-related humanitarian work from any belligerent party in a war against Iraq during the fighting.”
The group did state that once the fighting had stopped, it would reconsider its position.
The Not for Profit Network reported that the decision to shun government funding came as the international Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need, reported dire circumstances for Christians in Baghdad.
The group reported that Christians had been seeking shelter in churches and pastoral centers in Baghdad.
Aid organizations rejecting government monies continue to call for donations on their Web sites.
Jodi Mathews is BCE’s communications director.